5033 Olven Calender | 1351 Dale Reckoning
Vedis keeps watch while Lenata builds a fire. The thick mists veil everything around them reducing visibility to a mere few feet. Noticing a figure crouched in the mist she taps Lenata on the shoulder and then waves at it. Hands raised and empty the figure of a female catfolk approaches, dressed in styles vaguely reminiscent of the Priesthood of Ptah.
As the three converse they determine that they have all been swept here form someplace else by the mysterious mists. They also realize that the catfolk, named Kenari, is a groundling. It is at this point that another figure appears out of the mists, generating an instinctual moment of recognition with the Celestian priestess: she is an aasimar, the new arrival is a tiefling. Despite that moment of frisson, the four agree to combine forces (at least for now) to find out where they are and how to get out. It is then that they hear the first bloodcurdling howl in the distance.
More howls sound in the distance, and they sound like they are coming closer. The four, though newly met, decide to unite in the face of their shared circumstances and hastily dousing the fire proceed to remove themselves from the area of the howls.
The landscape revealed as the mist slowly dissipates is an uneven and dismal moor. Scrubby, bent little trees dot the landscape within view. Visibility now improving they can see about twenty five feet around themselves as they double time it away from the approaching howls.
Then the mists part, a dire wolf revealed in the distance. Then another noise pierces the gloom, a bestial roar. A humanoid figured breaks through the mist, picks up the wolf and snaps its spine across his knee. It must be at least 8 feet tall! As it turns Lenata discerns that it is stitched together from body parts. It also has an extremely damaged leg hampering its mobility.
Once more the group run for it, easily keeping double the pace of the creature but somehow unable to completely lose it. For close to five hours it pursues them across the moor until it finally comes across them stopping to rest. Pulling a tree from the ground he throws it at them. Lenata manages to duck to one side, but Kenari sees the tree glance away from Vedis as though deflected by an invisible barrier.
While Kenari taunts the creature, leading it away from the others. Easily done when taunting include trowing alchemists fire on it. Meanwhile Vedis concentrates, reveling in the sensation of using a power that could get her executed on Bral, keeping the flames alive so that the creature continues to burn. Sephira stands by, observing, the crackling energy of a readied spell glowing around her hands.
Then another, even larger creature comes out of the mists headed directly for the combat. Again it seems to be constructed of body parts. The second creature runs in, rips the head off the first, looks around disdainfully at the party, and runs off toward the mountains ahead.
A debate rapidly ensues over whether continuing towards the now visible mountains, and the keep now visible at their leading edge, is truly a wise idea. It is then that they spot the light of a camp fire in the distance. Making their way towards it they get reasonably close and then send Kenari to scout ahead.
The Mulhurrandi catfolk sneaks past a sentry to find a small camp of five wagons circled around a fire roughly eight feet across. Around it are colorfully dressed humans of all ages, and music is being played at the fire side. She raises her empty hands and steps through the trees. Instantly the music stops and a plethora of swords and wheel lock pistols are aimed in her direction.
After extensive argument, during which Kenari makes out the words “monster” and “spawn of evil” used, a woman in red who seems to be the matriarch agrees to hear her out and allow her companions to approach. Roughly half those present seem very ill at ease and whisper darkly amongst themselves. The most vocal opponent of allowing them into the camp is a man sporting a pair of dueling pistols at his hips and a exquisitely fashioned rapier.
Food and drink are brought at the matriarch’s direction and the group are quizzed about themselves. The one spot of recognition in the old woman’s eyes comes as the each mention the mists. She tells them that the mists reach out to snare people into this, the dark domain of Barovia. Looking sad she tells them that there is no known way out.
Bringing out a Tarokka deck she gets each of the young women to draw a card. Looking at the results she seems flustered, telling the group that they were not supposed to be taken.
As dark comes they bed down outside the fire, keeping their own watch along with the gypsys (who call themselves the Vistani). Other than the eerie wolf howls in the distance the night passes uneventfully.
The next day Kenari manages to sweet talk her way past the reservations of the Vistani and joins the men on their hunt. Meanwhile Lenata and Sephira compare their arcane knowledge as they try to find a way back to their homes. Vedis spends most of the day walking in the near vicinity of the encampment, keeping mostly to herself. Her walk is only disturbed once when she trips over what appears to be an elven skull, overgrown with moss.
Kenari returns triumphant, carrying a brace of rabbits. Of all the hunters she brought home the most food, which goes a good way towards making the Vistani less leery of her. Over dinner they confer with the matriarch, who says her people are leaving in the morning. When asked if the newcomers may accompany them she looks doubtful saying that it is not decision alone to make. She does agree to give them an answer in the morning, though.
Everyone beds down for the night and watches are assigned. A full moon rises over the bleak moors.
At about 4 bells, during Sephira’s watch, a pack of huge wolves descend upon the encampment. The Vistani man the wagons and hold them at bay with swords and gunfire. As the ladies groggily awake and get into combat mode the wolves circle the wagons, howling and snarling the while.
Outside the circle A swirling ball of mist forms and the form of Ef Utan Izenik, armor bag slung over his shoulder, steps forth from it. As the mists clear he begins to get a good view of the wolves assault on the Vistani caravan. A half smile crosses his features as he opens his bag and begins donning his armor.
Back at the encampment Kenari climbs one of the trees to get a better shot at the wolves with her bow. Sephira stays inside the ring with a magic missile readied, while Lenata draws her dragon pistols and advances towards a gap between the wagons. Vedis steps over to the fire and brow furrowed begins to concentrate, exercising powers she rarely gets to use on Bral. As she does so part of the fire animates and, under her direction, leaves the firepit heading towards the wolves.
Ef Utan, now properly dressed for the occasion, slots an arrow into his bow and takes aim at one of the wolves. As he fires the bowstring snaps sending the arrow wild where it buries itself in Kenari’s leg as she sits in the tree branches. throwing the bow aside he draws his katana and advances on the wolves. With a single strike he diables one of the wolves, stopping to administer a killing blow afterwards. Whirling he stikes down another, but as he does so the two largest transform into werewolf form.
Suddenly the caravan circle is breached as one of the werewolves manages to breach the defenses and leaps into their midst. Lenata is busy healing Kenari’s wound, but Sephira blasts it with a magic missile. Vedis immediately send the animated fire to wrap itself around the werewolf’s feet.
It is at this point that Lenata invokes her deity in an effort to enthrall their foes. All of the normal wolves, Kenari, Ef Utan and several of the Vistani become enthralled. The two werewolves, however, do not….